Never Too Old to be Young @ Art

Erin Meadows residents discover talent they never knew existed

By Kristian Partington

When a fellow resident at the Village of Erin Meadows in Mississauga suggested she join the Young @ Art group, Donna Lee Traetto was skeptical. Art wasn’t in her blood, Donna thought, she wouldn’t be any good.   

Erin Meadows resident Donna Lee Traetto
never thought art would be part of her
skillset until she moved to the village.

But she was new to the village and looking for different ways to get to know people, so she took a chance and attended one of the Tuesday morning sessions. That was more than a year ago and she wouldn’t miss a session now. Like her, there are many residents who’d never before put brush and paint to canvas, but today they are all artists and every week they surprise themselves with their accomplishments. 

Kasha Marcez is the recreation team member who facilitates the bi-weekly sessions, and she says it’s amazing to see the gratification in residents’ eyes when they realize that despite their initial reluctance, they’re capable of creating something beautiful.

“We were created to be creative,” Kasha says, and that’s why she’s eager to see the people she works with step outside of their comfort zone and pick up the paintbrushes. She has always been passionate about art, though until the volunteer who taught the program left four years ago, she’d never taught it. Kasha was a teacher in her native Poland before moving to Canada, however, so she fills the role well. When she began teaching the program, there were but a handful of artists. Now it’s not unexpected to have a couple dozen people working away in the community centre when the program runs.

Recreation director Sami Kermani is inspired every time she sees the group come together, not only by the results she sees in the actual art but by the pride she sees in the faces of the residents.   

Rec. Team Member Kasha Marcez loves
to see the pride residents take in their work
with the Young @ Art program.

“Some of these residents for the first time in their life are holding a paint brush in their hands,” Sami says. She gathered a collection of the work into a calendar format now being sold to raise money for residents’ council, and a growing collection adorns a wall in the village – a gallery that will most certainly continue to expand.

The idea that as people grow older new talents are out of reach doesn’t sit well with Donna, and she encourages others to take a chance on new possibilities, just as she did in those early weeks after moving into the village.

“You just never know unless you try,” Donna says. Not only did she make many new friends; she also discovered talent and satisfaction that she’d never known before.